The stockpile of books is slowly but surely diminishing! Also, adopting DEAR into the classroom turned out to be a really good thing - five minutes guaranteed extra reading time for me as well as the kids during the course of the school day!
Read this month -
1) Pirates by Celia Rees. Murder and the prospect of a forced marriage conspire to turn Nancy Kington, merchant's daughter, and Minerva Sharpe, former slave, into pirates. I've read a few of her books before, and they're always beautifully written with some lovely description, but the same as with 'The Fool's Girl', most of the time, it seemed like action happened around these characters rather than to the characters. Sometimes you're poised on the brink of something really exciting happening, and then the narrator disposes of it in a few sentences. Such an atmospheric read though, and a very interesting plot.
2) The Diamond of Drury Lane and Cat Among the Pigeons by Julia Golding. Set in 1790, Cat Royal is an orphan who lives in the Theatre Royal, and gets mixed up in all kinds of adventures with her friends. These were so much fun to read - just rollicked along, daring you not to join in the adventure. I liked how the chapters weren't divided into chapters, but scenes. Cat herself is amusing, but the most interesting character is her enemy, Billy Boyle, the ruthless gang leader, and the stories get really tense when it's just the two of them interacting.
3) Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. I love that title! I liked the book that went with it, too :) Cas Lowood is a ghost hunter with a tragic backstory - his father was murdered by a spirit - and he's made it his mission to dispatch any and all ghosts...a mission that becomes more complicated when he becomes fascinated by Anna. I liked the central relationship, and given how things ended, I'll definitely have to pick up the sequel when it's available.
4) The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean. I totally fell in love with this book - I got so caught up that I had to finish it in one sitting. Sym, the fourteen year old narrator, is not your average girl. She's obsessed with the Antarctic and she's got Titus Oates (from Scott's expedition) in her head to help her cope with her life. At the very start, there's this sense of foreboding, and I thought I was reading one kind of story, but then it took a hard right - and then another. There's a point where the plot becomes very...convoluted - but it's so beautifully written and Sym is such a fantastically engaging narrator that it didn't matter. I felt totally destroyed (in a good way!) after finishing this.
5) The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance by Paul Strathern. This was really interesting - but it took me a long time to get through the book! It was like trying to eat an entire plum pudding in one sitting or something - it was so crammed with information that you could only absorb so much. Fascinating, though.
...it was one of those books that was enhanced by fandom-brain - when I got to the part about Savonarola (priest who took over after the Medici were overthrown), all I could think was how great a setting it would make for a Pros AU. I mean, you have artists being swayed and doubting their previous convictions due to Savonarola's passionate preaching, a city full of spies, soldiers - everything!
Also, the Medici need to be the next big historical fiction series.
6) Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro. This didn't do anything for me - which shows how much I know, because all the reviews said it was haunting and gorgeous and startlingly vivid and spellbinding. Clearly I am a Philistine - maybe it was the lack of scope for Pros AUs! :)
7) The Burning City by Ariel and Joaquin Dorfman. Another one that just wasn't for me. I did love the description of the city (the heat, the people, the streets), and Heller's reckless pursuit of speed as he makes his way through the streets on his bike...I also loved the idea of the message company - Soft Tidings, which specialises in giving bad news (and good) the personal touch. Heller, the main character is a bike messenger for Soft Tidings, and he apparently has a way with breaking terrible news to strangers. In fact, he only breaks bad news, which maybe has to do with the fact that he lives with his grandparents - his parents are oceans away, trying to make the world a better place. Great setup, except I never really connected with Heller.
...but, going back to fannish thinking again - how awesome would that be as a Hey Arnold! AU or future fic? I mean, Arnold would totally be the sympathetic, empathetic bike messenger - and he has to deliver news of her father's death to Helga, who does not react at all in the way he expects - and he feels kind of responsible, since he was the one who broke the news, and so a tentative connection is formed...
chewing gum for the eyes!
- fannish taste for AUs remains unabated during book roundup